ATF report shows increase in quick-turnaround criminal gun trafficking in Ohio

'There’s a swell of guns being pumped into communities like ours'
Posted at 4:58 PM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-06 16:58:48-05

CLEVELAND — New data gives us a better idea about the prevalence of gun violence in Ohio and how quickly those guns end up in the wrong hands.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently released its firearms tracing report.

When a gun is confiscated from a crime scene, it’s traced from when it was purchased to when it ends up as evidence in an investigation. It's called “time to crime data.”

ATF “time to crime data” for Ohio shows the number of guns going from purchased to confiscated in less than three months doubling from 2019 to 2020, accounting for 16% of guns confiscated in 2020.

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ATF assistant special agent in charge Timothy Canon told News 5 that kind of data can make a case.

“That gun may be our only piece of evidence, and if you can trace it back to a purchaser, that purchaser may be able to identify a suspect in a shooting,” he explained. “The more firearms you trace, the more complete a picture you’ll receive.”

It's part of a growing trend News 5 reported on earlier this year: an increase across the board in guns being confiscated.

In Akron, police said they’re seizing about 100 guns a month.

“There’s a swell of guns being pumped into communities like ours and communities across the state of Ohio,” Lt. Michael Miller said.

In Cleveland, police report they’re confiscating nearly 33% more guns this year compared to the same time last year.

The numbers don’t surprise Myesha Crowe with the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance.

She argues it's easier to access a gun than stable housing or a reliable job. That's why her neighborhood-based organization works to employ outreach workers in the community, in some cases former gang members, to help curb this violence.

Her group works towards “implementing people and placing people in communities that have the impact to not only see that a young person needs alternatives, but also the investment,” she explained. "There's many barriers to lack of resources right now with the pandemic, with unemployment rates being high, with injustices that a lot of people and communities are just hopeless and desperate. Hopelessness and desperation leads to fear and sometimes fear looks like having access to a firearm.”